How to become more fast-fashion savvy?

The global fashion industry has a huge problem with pollution, waste and human rights abuses but by reading between the seams we take action on our own hands and can do something about it. Today, with the rise of so many retailers offering us the opportunity to buy on-trend styles with an ethical and sustainable conscience, we really have no excuse to rely on fast-fashion.

I know it’s hard to resist the lure of fast-fashion and if you try and make the change overnight you’ll likely end up both bankrupt and disorientated. Shopping for slow fashion doesn’t need to be overwhelming or expensive and it absolutely can be a process.

Chucking out all your high street labels in an act of rebellion to fast fashion is counter intuitive. If you have wearable clothes, wear them. And when it’s so worn that the fabric is falling apart (and can’t be repaired) or holes start exposing things they shouldn’t, only then start thinking about a sustainable replacement. Eventually, as you make the gradual shift across, you will see the changes stack up.

But it’s hard to know what’s right and wrong when you’re on a mission to avoid fast fashion - it’s everywhere and often cleverly disguised by brands trying to position themselves as an ethical/sustainable when, after a bit of detective work, the reality is somewhat different.

Don’t worry, if you want to wade through the rubbish then you’re in the right place. Read through for some helpful fast-fashion signs to look out for, ideas for alternative places to shop away from fast fashion… and there’s even some suggested further reading if you want some homework.

Three tell-tale signs of fast fashion

·      Be wary of a ‘bargain!’ Low-cost often means low quality, and it rarely. The fabric, cutting, stitching and delivery of that garment comes at a cost - and if you’re not covering it then someone else is!

·      Offshore manufacturing often means poor working conditions, child labour and low wages. This isn’t the rule, but it certainly isn’t the exception either. Some manufacturers have put traceability practices in place so we can see the full journey of our garments. You won’t find anything like that if fast-fashion’s processes are involved.

·      Fast production from catwalk to high-street is a big tell-tale sign. Styles that are regurgitated across all the major high street retailers usually spells out fast fashion.

Five ways become a more savvy shopper

So you’ve got an eye watering amount of high street jumpers, tops and jeans and you feel guilty. Here’s some practical ways that you can offset the effects of fast fashion:

1. Commit to 26 wears

There’s 365 days and 52 weeks in a year so committing to 26 wears of a single item (around twice a month!) is hardly unachievable.

2. Buy less, buy better

Think about it, if you commit to spending more than you’d like on a piece of clothing then you’re psychologically more inclined to look after it. AND if you’ve paid over the (perceived) odds then chances are you’re giving a good wage to everyone involved in the production process. Buy less, buy better.

3. Get thrifty

If point 2 about paying so much it hurts just isn’t realistic for you or isn’t the right approach (it’s personal choice) then start leafing through rails at thrift stores, vintage boutiques and charity shops. You’re cutting down on waste, there’s no additional carbon footprint for production of new items and if that item of clothing has made it to the rails of a second hand store then it’s already proved it can stand the test of time.

4. If you chuck away clothes, think about where they’re going

Synthetic fabric like polyester are non-biodegradable and will not decompose in landfill. In fact, even degradable materials like cotton struggle to decompose in conditions that landfill creates. If you plan to do a wardrobe clean up, consider more ethical ways to dispose of it all - a clothes party with friends, donating to charity, compositing or using it to get crafty and make new items. clutch bags from jeans, cleaning rags from old t-shirts - get your thinking cap on!

5. Create a mental checklist

Every time you buy something ask yourself two questions: do I really need this? And ‘who made my clothes’? (This, coincidentally is the strapline for the Fashion Revolution movement against fast-fashion). If either of those go against the grain of sustainable and ethical shopping there’s your answer - walk away from the lure!

Education yourself

The rise of sustainable fashion is only a good thing and we owe it to the planet to cut back on excess. By educating ourselves and understanding more about supply chain exploitation, child labour issues, pollution from chemicals in clothes dye (the list go on) we’ll naturally want to gravitate away from everything the world of fast fashion stands for.

Here’s a few resources to get you started.

The True Cost: This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?

Fashion Revolution: A global movement that to unite people and organisations to work together towards radically changing the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed, so that our clothing is made in a safe, clean and fair way.

Good on You: The world’s leading source for fashion brand ratings. We pull all the information together and use expert analysis to give each brand an easy-to-understand score. With Good On You, you can discover the very best fashion from around the world and learn everything you need to know about ethical and sustainable fashion.

Lizzie CarrComment